Database Security Threats and Countermeasures

Database security and integrity threats are often devastating, and there are many types of database security threats that can affect any type of operation. Such database security vulnerabilities have resulted in hacks that, after even one penetration, have exposed the confidential information of hundreds of millions of users. But database security risks can be minimized through proper management and the right set of tools. Let’s look at the nature of database security threats and the countermeasures that you can take against them.

Top Database Security Threats

There are literally hundreds of types of database security threats that can penetrate to steal or destroy information. For the sake of simplicity, we have organized the top database security threats into three groups:

System Threats

Patches and updates

Failure to update systems, particularly when a patch is issued, is a serious database security risk. Whenever public notice is given about a new patch, hackers are made aware of a weakness and look for systems that have not yet been updated. Therefore, staying on top of software updates is vital.

Injections

This is a very common database security vulnerability attack, which exploits a web software weakness to enable various activities such as account impersonation; manipulating user actions; and accessing the database. 

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Malware

Malware can infect various devices, and lead to legitimate users enabling the theft of data as the malicious code embedded in their device uses their access abilities to penetrate an organization.

Neglected Databases

One of the top database security threats is the lack of protection for backup storage media. Although regulations often demand measures to ensure the security of such media, various cases of data theft involving backup databases show that these measures are often not taken.

Similarly, in large organizations, a list of databases and a record of any sensitive material that they contain is sometimes not complete. Forgotten databases, or new ones that the security team does not know about, can be a serious database security and integrity threat.

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Credential Threats

Employing substandard password management and authentication methods can allow identity theft, brute force attacks, and social engineering schemes such as phishing.

Privilege Threats

Another database security risk can occur when an administrator provides a user with rights beyond what they actually need, or when a user abuses their access rights. In either case, databases can be improperly accessed through unintended consequences of legitimate privileges. Similarly, by exploiting low-level access permissions, a skilled attacker can gain entry to high-level privileges.

The Realization of Database Security Vulnerabilities

When an organization fails to deal with the various types of database security threats, disaster can result. In 2019 alone, we have witnessed dozens of companies learn the lesson of database security risks. Among the most notable penetrations and crashes this year:

  • Hackers accessed Toyota servers in April and stole the sales information of 3.1 million Toyota and Lexus car owners.
  • Also in April, third-party app developers exposed hundreds of millions of Facebook users' records in such a way that the data files could be downloaded by anyone.
  • Various credit scores, card limits, balances, credit history, addresses, and Social Security and bank account numbers of up to 100 million Capital One Financial Corporation customers were stolen by hackers.
  • A flaw in database design exposed 800 million records of First American Financial customers to essentially anybody using a web browser.
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On one hand, it’s important to remember that not all failures related to database security and integrity threats result in a hostile penetration. For many of these companies, the breach was internal and no criminal action resulted. However, falling prey to database security vulnerabilities results, at a minimum, in a damaged reputation and an expensive clean-up bill. For instance, in the U.S. alone, enterprises that fail in managing database security threats and countermeasures pay an average of USD 8 million to resolve the problem.

Dealing with Database Security and Integrity Threats 

To deal with database security risks resulting from system vulnerabilities, organizations should implement the latest active software-based defenses that protect against viruses, malware, and other threats. Secondly, if database security and integrity threats related to third-party software are an issue, administrators must regularly implement fixes and updated versions, or even change vendors if a problem persists. Lastly, if homegrown software is suspected of causing database security vulnerabilities, then regular audits and even friendly hacking attempts should be considered. 

Moreover, as can be seen from the list of top database security threats, prevention often relates to management. Organizations must prepare and actualize a set of strong security regulations that minimize avoidable database security risks.

A starting point for this step is a proper set of tools designed specifically to address database security vulnerabilities. To mitigate database security risks, enterprises should leverage the advantages of DBmaestro, which allows the enforcement of organizational policy, management of roles, and administration of permissions. DBmaestro’s tools can act as a guide for organizations in the setting of effective security policies.

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